Why We Need a “Yes!” Day

It’s only 7:30 PM, and I’m falling asleep.  My oldest daughter climbs up beside me on the bed and says, “Mom, you really need a Yes! day.  That’s what you need!  Remember the Yes! day?”

Oh, I remember.

A few years ago, I felt like every word out of my mouth was, “No.”  I’d scream that word about everything.  No she couldn’t eat this, touch that, go there.  No she couldn’t stay up late, sleep out in a tent, climb that tree, bake that thing, or visit that place.

I saw her little shoulders slump down further and further with every “No!”

So one day, I told her I was changing my ways.  We were going to try out a Yes! day.  For one entire day, I would say Yes! to every single thing she asked.   

It was a very long and very strange day.

It involved brownies for breakfast, glitter, playgrounds, visiting neighborhood dogs, eating pizza, and watching movies.  It involved baking, bubble baths, lip gloss, and dancing. It involved Polly Pockets somehow.  I can’t remember each event, but I remember I learned to say, “Yes!”

“Why do I need a Yes! day?”  I ask her, rubbing my eyes and yawning.

“You need a break.  You need to say Yes! to yourself.”

(insert long pause as a mother sits up, tilts her head, and considers the wisdom of a child)

She’s nodding with the words of an ancient soul.  “You need to wake up and say Yes! to the stuff you want.  You know, the things you love.  Maybe just for a day, you could say Yes! to all the things you love and want.”  She furrows her eyebrows very seriously.  “Like coffee.  You could get the best coffee tomorrow.”   

I want to cry.  Moms forget to say Yes! to themselves.

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Journal:  What am I saying Yes! to today?

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Things Worth Writing Down

I’m sitting in a lecture hall, listening to a seminary professor teach on the book of Romans.  I bring a journal with me (the one the Italian Mama gave me before I left for Colorado).  I reserve this journal’s pages for the most special things–ideas worth keeping–so I can remember my summer experiences.

I think I might record two, maybe three, pearls of wisdom.

I fill eight pages.

I go through the ink of two pens.

It’s because it occurs to me once again that this whole life of faith is miraculous.  I’m listening to supernatural, impossibly beautiful things here.  Apart from God, I have no choice but to embrace a self-centered existence, doomed to conflict and despair.  If I did as I pleased, I would have probably destroyed myself long ago.  But when I surrendered at last and bended my will, I found the kind of freedom that doesn’t make sense.  It is a miracle how God interacts with us.  I can’t figure it out. 

Living with flair means I fill journal after journal with wisdom that never gets old.  The miracle is new every morning.

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Journal:  What’s the last bit of wisdom you wrote down?

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How to Blog Every Day

When you blog for almost 400 days straight, sometimes you get emails asking how to blog every day.

The average blog lasts 6 weeks (42 days), and when I started Live with Flair, I wondered if blogging would stick for me.  Would it fizzle?  Would anyone read it?  Would this whole thing continue? 

It did.  I love it, and I look forward to it every day.  Sometimes I have 10 minutes to write.  Sometimes an entire hour clears.  Either way, I write.  And along the way, I figured out three secrets to blogging every single day.

Here they are: 

1.  You have to ask yourself a good question. 

My question for each day is simple:  Where’s the flair?  This question means that blogging is my commonplace book–that treasury I keep of answers to a question.

There’s a genuine question to answer today, and, as you’ve read before, I pray for the answer (usually in the shower when I’m tempted to feel grumpy about the day).  I have to believe that the answer to the question inspires someone else as well.  That’s the second secret of daily blogging:   

2.  You have to believe that what you write will be good for someone else. 

I’ve talked to so many bloggers who don’t think their thoughts are worth anything to anybody else.  These last few years, I’ve seen brilliant student writers refuse to share their work in class because they think it’s “worthless” and “nobody cares.”

What if we did?  What if your thoughts today could inspire a whole community?  We do care, and your thoughts can inspire

Living with flair means we ask good questions and build a treasury of wisdom to offer to others.  Sure critics will come against you.  Sure you’ll think nobody cares.  But when you learn something and pass it on to others, you’re engaging in an ancient art of recording wisdom for future generations.  Why wouldn’t we blog every day?  Why wouldn’t we ask ourselves philosophical questions every single day and tell someone what we think?

In this way, we also build a community of readers–fellow pilgrims–who join in and contribute their own wisdom.  It’s a beautiful thing.  Right now, we can say “hello” to readers in Germany, New Zealand,  Nigeria, and Australia.  We can engage with readers from Turkey, the Netherlands, Taiwan, Russia, and Italy.  (Hello friends!) 

Blogging means I’m going international every day.  That’s the final secret:

3.  You blog every day because you have an appointment with your readers.

I hope this post encourages fellow bloggers and reminds you why you started blogging in the first place. 

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Journal:  What question am I trying to answer today?  Do I believe I have wisdom to share?  Do I have a community with whom I might share these thoughts?  We are all waiting to hear what you think!

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Just Because There’s Space Doesn’t Mean You Have to Fill It

For the first time in 9 years, I’m going to have space.  Space and time.  Both my daughters will attend elementary school from 8:30-3:00 PM. 

Already, I’m filling up those future days.  I work part time and help coordinate ministry events with my husband.  I write novels and design college writing courses on the side.  Saturday morning I clean the house.  If you read this blog, you know that I keep busy.  I’m driven by some unseen force to produce, to achieve, to be recognized.   That’s my dark side.

And it’s showing up again as this new school year approaches.  I’m already thinking about new projects and new campaigns. I’m wondering what group I can organize, what new courses to teach, and what new novel I’ll conceive.

My husband, the wise Eagle Scout that led me to the still water on our anniversary hike, said this:

“Just because there’s space doesn’t mean you have to fill it.”

I stare at him, mouth agape.  Whatever can that mean?  I don’t even know what that would look like.

This morning in church, I talk to God about my drive to fill space with as many things as I can.  What am I doing?  Whose affection am I trying to win? What prize am I racing toward?  I ask God to show me how to be led and not driven.  I ask God to show me what it would look like to have so much space in a day that I could rest, listen, and respond to my life rather than reacting in a rush of furious energy.

So I’m not filling space this fall.  I’ve turned down 3 offers for more work this week. I even said “no” to a teaching offer and a writing project.  Cheers!  High-fives!  I’m going to feed my soul and practice not filling space.  

I need space to be led by God and not driven.  I’m still not sure what it looks like to slow down and sit in empty space.  But whatever it is, it’s a new thing.  It will be my less frantic form of flair.

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10 Things You Learn About Life When You Go to the Beach

1.  Don’t have lots of stuff.  The sand gets in everything, and it’s a lot to manage when you’re tired.  Less is more.

2.  Listen to older and wiser people.  Grandpa knows where to park and find the best spot.  He had to do it before GPS and iPhones.  

3. You need protection of all sorts–the more the better (SPF 100). 

4.  Find places to rest in the shade.

5.  Don’t expect to find whole things (shells, starfish, crabs).  Most everything is broken but still beautiful.

6.  When you leave the shore and venture out, it’s best to have  folks (grandma and grandpa) watching you and with you (Mom and Dad).  The sea is dangerous, so the more people you have aware of you, the better.

7.  Your instincts tell you to race back to the shore when a wave is coming.  Do not do this.  It will pummel you and toss you so hard you’ll be beyond recognition afterward.  Move towards the wave (the fear, the new thing, the huge transition), and you’ll find it will let you rise up high.  As my daughter says, “The wave only looks big.  When you swim through it, it becomes small.”

8.  Know when it’s time to go home.   Too much riding the waves means you can’t make it back to your car.

9.  Stop for ice-cream on the way back to the car.  Sometimes a sweet, cold treat helps everybody manage if they’ve not figured out number 8.

10.Take pictures and look at them a lot.    

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